University of Rochester Library Bulletin: "I Could Not be Well or Happy at Home . . . When Called to the Councils of My Country," Politics and the Seward Family

Volume XXXI · Autumn 1978 · Number 1
"I Could Not be Well or Happy at Home. . .When Called to the Councils of My Country": Politics and the Seward Family

In an era which put a high priority on stability in family life, the warmth and tenderness of William Henry Seward's relationship with his wife and children was frequently commented upon. Fellow politicians described the quiet evenings when the "Governor" read aloud to his wife, or invited the visitors to join him and his daughter in a few hands of whist. The terms most often used to portray him at these times were "affectionate," "unselfish," "kindly," and "considerate."1

The Seward family correspondence seems to reveal a rather different picture—an ambitious and usually absent husband, a querulous, lonesome, possibly neurotic wife, and children who were shuttled both physically and emotionally between the parents. Yet the two portraits can be reconciled. Seward was an affectionate and concerned father and husband. The problem was that the affection and concern were all too often expressed in letters sent from Albany, Westfield, Washington, New York, or even London. The Seward family clearly loved one another, but William Henry had another love—politics. The family were expected to reconcile themselves and to adjust to the competition. They did not always succeed.

The early years of the Seward marriage gave few hints of the difficulties to come. Frances Miller seemed an ideal wife for an ambitious young lawyer. A stylish dresser, she was slender, graceful, and attractive. Educated beyond the average and trained in domestic skills arid genteel accomplishments, she was well-read, serious-minded, and interested in public questions. Although not widely traveled, she had been to boarding school and on visits to the homes of young friends.2 She did not seem to manifest any unusual homesickness on these occasions and her general health and spirits were good. A special point in her favor was that she was the child of Seward's employer, the wealthy and respected judge, Elijah Miller.

There was, however, one unusual circumstance attending the marriage, which took place on October 20, 1824. This was Judge Miller's inflexible condition that Frances continue to live with him until his death. If the old judge truly loved his daughter he could scarcely have imposed a worse condition. As the years passed it removed from William Henry the responsibility for the day-to-day care and emotional support of his wife. When he left to campaign for Anti-Masonic, Whig, or Republican candidates, to supervise land purchases, to try cases, or to serve in the state or national government, he knew that Frances was secure in a comfortable house, with the care of devoted family servants and the companionship of father, grandmother, and aunt. It is small wonder that William Henry never really comprehended the depth of his wife's need for his presence. On Frances the effect of living in the South Street house was, if anything, worse. She had acquired a husband and in due course would acquire children, but the pattern of her days remained essentially unchanged. She made no sharp break with her girlhood and was not forced to accompany her husband or to adjust to new and different responsibilities. This probably set the pattern for her later problems. She came to believe that families should at all times be together and that security, for her at least, lay only in the house of her childhood. As the older Millers died and her own children grew and moved off to their careers, the house itself became a sanctuary and she opposed plans to alter and enlarge it.3 The young couple did make one bolt for freedom but they didn't bolt far or for long. In the Winter of 1829-1830, they purchased a small property on South Street, across from the Miller residence. The next year Seward found that his "official, professional and political duties" kept him away from Auburn so much that it was advisable to return Frances and the children to the Millers.4

In fact, the opening of the new decade of the thirties marked a change in the tenor of the Seward marriage. William Henry had clearly been angling for political office for some years. In the fall of 1830 he got his wish and was elected to the New York State Senate. If Seward's professional and political obligations were burgeoning so were his familial ones, and Frances must have wondered how the two would be reconciled. For the first time in her marriage she was spending Christmas without her husband, spending it with three old people, a four-year-old boy, and an infant. For the first time, too, her "dearest Henry" was not going merely on a quick trip but was planning to live apart from her for the four months of the legislative session. Frances need not have been a prophet to realize that a two-year term in the state legislature was hardly the summit of her husband's ambition. She probably anticipated that his departure, in December 1830, would be the first of many, but she could not have guessed just how little time they would have together in the ensuing years. In the next 35 years Frances had her husband with her at Auburn for no more than eight Christmas celebrations, none of which occurred after 1847. They saw the New Year in together on South Street only three times. They were "home" together for her birthday and their wedding anniversary a maximum of 12 and nine times respectively.

It wasn't merely that it was difficult to celebrate without him. There were also times of trial, grief, and pain, when she needed him to sustain her. In fairness to William Henry he was in Auburn for the births of all of his children and for the deaths of all of the members of the family except Frances' aunt, Clarinda Miller McClallen. But if he got home, he rarely stayed home. The Sewards' first daughter, Cornelia, was born August 25, 1836, and the proud father actually managed almost two weeks in Auburn before returning to his business affairs in Westfield and to the campaign of the Whig candidate for governor. He was not with Frances when their infant daughter sickened, arriving only in time to find the child blinded, scarred, and dying of smallpox. He remained in Auburn for almost a month because he and the older boy, Augustus, were both down with mild cases of the disease. As soon as he recovered he was back in Westfield. Barely had he left when the second son, Frederick, became seriously ill with pneumonia. On June 18, 1839, Frances gave birth to a third son, William Henry, Jr. As was usual now, the father was off again on his travels within about 10 days. "Henry" actually planned to spend more time with his wife during her confinement with their last child, a daughter, Frances Adeline, born December 9, 1844. Less than a week after the birth he was journeying to Florida, New York, where his mother was dying. He promised to return quickly but hard on the heels of his letter came two more, in unknown handwriting. One was written at his dictation by a doctor and the other was from a Quaker gentleman. Both letters described Seward's injuries in a carriage accident. When Frances finally saw him again in January of 1845 he was brought home on a litter. Her anxiety for her "dearest Henry" was so great that she had trouble nursing the baby.

Writing to Thurlow Weed in 1851, Seward mentioned that he expected to be delayed in Auburn "a few days" because of Judge Miller's death and the affairs of the estate. His expectation was realized. The old judge died on November 13 and by the end of the month William Henry was in Washington preparing for the opening of Congress on December 1.5 That was William Henry all over. He came, he consoled, and he left. That was not at all what Frances needed.

She needed his support during all the more mundane but nonetheless important crises of her life and those of the children. How much better to talk to "Henry" than to write to him about her efforts to encourage Augustus' interest in scholarship and her exultation at Fred's ambition to excel in his studies.6 How important to share with him her fears about Will's attack of scarlet fever and his "imperfect vision," or Fanny's repeated bouts with chills, fever, and ulcerated sore throats.7 The younger children teethed, toddled, spoke their first words, acquired pets, and learned to play with each other largely in their father's absence.8 Frances needed William Henry to share with her these growing-up experiences just as she had needed him earlier during her pregnancies.

Frances Seward seems to have been the type of woman who, while genuinely desiring children, found not merely childbirth but also pregnancy physically and emotionally distressing. She was ill throughout most of the months before Cornelia's birth. She had barely recovered some of her spirits after the child's death and the other family illnesses when she was pregnant again. "Henry" was running for governor and he was sensitive enough to write his political ally, Weed, that he had "the conviction that her happiness is best promoted by our defeat." Unfortunately for Frances, he was not defeated. She took to her bed entirely and won Seward's agreement that she must remain in Auburn while he trekked to Albany since, as he again wrote Weed, "her suffering now as in all former cases is extreme."9 Nor did her pregnancies get any easier. A month before Fanny's birth she wrote her sister: "my health is miserable I think more so than it ever was before."10

Frances was ill at other times as well. In fact, as the years progressed it became far easier to list her well days than her sick ones. In the later years of her life she could be made ill by such simple things as the barking of a dog, the jolting of a carriage, or the glare of gaslights.11 She complained of a variety of ailments—toothaches, eye trouble, insomnia, pains in her side and legs, chills, fever, and nausea, but the most recurrent complaints were headaches, fever, and neuralgia. In addition, she suffered from prolonged spells of depression.12 Her disposition became somewhat morbid and she often wrote of her children using such expressions as "if she lives" or "if he lives to attain the age of manhood."13 When given good news she frequently looked for a dark side.14

At first William Henry showed nothing but tenderness, sympathy, and concern. As the years passed, however, he began to lose patience. His letters started to contain gently worded complaints. In describing a New Year's Day in Washington in 1854 he told Frances that although there was a foot of snow on the ground and he was "ill enough to confine myself all day" he thought he ought to go out and make calls "in your name, and my own."15 During the Civil War his patience wore away almost entirely. At one point, after describing the current national situation, he urged: "I pray you to go to the seashore, or to come here. I will find you as soon as I can. I am firm and hopeful; but I am now becoming undermined by anxiety about you."16 In the year of his own death he told his family that one is invigorated by every hour spent out of doors and weakened by every one "spent on the sofa, or by the study fire."17 Frances had spent almost 30 years in the latter places, or worse, in a darkened bedroom.

What exactly was the cause of Frances' distress? Was she physically ill? Was she an immature, neurotic woman using illness as a device to attract the attention and the affection first of her husband and then of her children?

Doctor after doctor could find little physically wrong with Frances. She herself believed that her nervous system was in some way diseased, and in the crudest layman's sense of the term she may have been right. Her sudden, violent, recurring headaches and their causes seem to suggest that she was a victim of migraines. If so, this would also explain the nausea since that often accompanies the true migraine headache. She may also have been the victim of another less common but equally ill-understood nervous malady called post-partum depression. Mild depression after childbirth is now considered both common and normal. It lasts from several days to several weeks and passes away quite naturally as the mother regains strength and perspective, but in a few cases a seemingly healthy and stable woman may sink into deep depression and despair. Such a state may develop suddenly after a number of normal confinements or it may start with the first child and become progressively severe with each subsequent birth. If untreated the condition may become more or less permanent. The saga of Frances' difficult pregnancies, slow recoveries, and increasingly lengthy depressions would suggest that her "vapors" had their roots in motherhood. The rest of Frances' ills are more difficult to explain. Both her mother and her daughter, Fanny, died of consumption, but there appears to have been nothing wrong with Frances' lungs sufficient to explain her coughs, fevers, or chills. The family use of the term neuralgia is too vague and inexact to convey much meaning. One biographer has suggested that she had rheumatism or arthritis.18 Certainly, the Auburn climate renders this a plausible explanation.

In short, Frances Seward probably had a number of physical and nervous disorders now accepted by medical science for which there was little recognition and no cure in the nineteenth century. Yet none of them, either singly or in combination, was enough to make her a reclusive invalid. The circumstances of her life and her own temperament did that. She was retiring by nature, and at the first sign of trouble her instinct was to retreat further into herself and her family circle. Her residence in her father's house deprived her in the early stages of her illnesses of any physical necessity to overcome her depression or discomfort. The stoves would be stoked, the wash done, and the children fed whether she rose from her bed or not. Her husband's repeated absences deprived her of his tenderness and the gentle raillery and humor which might have encouraged her to recover. Her depression doubtless fed on itself, and she came to feel neglected and cheated of the life she had expected. Without doubt, she then turned her illness into a weapon. If "Henry" would not give up his wanderings of his own accord, then surely if she was sick and he loved her, he would come home. The real tragedy of her life was that she discovered too late that he did love her, but not that much.

Naturally, there was another course open to Frances. If he wouldn't come to her, she could go to him. William Henry was not trying to escape his wife and children. He liked to have his family about him, waiting in the wings to be available when time permitted carriage rides, trips to museums, plays, or lectures, games of whist, or literary discussions. Wherever he was—Albany, Washington, or Westfield—he rented a house where he could entertain and receive business callers without destroying the privacy of the family. In the very beginning of his career this was not possible, and the family stayed at Bement's Hotel or the Congress Hall in Albany. Little Fred thoroughly enjoyed the experience but Frances did not. The rooms were small, drafty, cold, and ill-furnished, and Seward and his cronies usually monopolized the parlor until the early morning hours with their cigars and their endless political discussions. Frances and the boys accompanied William Henry to only two of the Senate sessions and she was ill and unhappy both times. Since the sessions began in January it meant traveling, usually through snow and ice, for three to four days by sleigh or coach, with uncertain sleeping and eating accommodations along the way. All this with two small children and boxes of clothes, toys, and books. When "Henry" said "come" it made it sound a good deal simpler than it really was.19

At the end of 1834 it looked as if the family might have a respite from the political wars. "Henry's" Senatorial term had expired and he had been defeated in his campaign for governor. Seward, in his early years, had not really liked the law as a career and now he determined to free himself from it. He wanted, if not to be rich, at least to have a competence which would provide for the security of his family and the urges of his own generous nature while leaving him free to pursue his political ambitions. He thought he saw his opportunity in the proposed sale by the Holland Land Company of 365,000 acres of land in Chautauqua County. He accepted the delicate position of agent for the new owners and involved himself heavily in the speculation.20 In late June of 1836, he set out for his new duties, and by September he had rented a substantial five-bedroom house set in spacious grounds with a delightful octagon parlor overlooking a garden and orchards. Clearly he hoped that the family would join him, but the only one who actually came was Augustus. After Cornelia's death, he begged Frances to live in Westfield but Judge Miller objected. In the spring of 1837, Seward turned the Westfield operation over to his brother. Hereafter, his trips to Chautauqua County would be to check on matters, not to reside there.21

He left Westfield not merely because he wanted to be home with his family, however. He had the political virus for sure; he still wanted to be governor. His whirlwind campaigning through the state was rewarded in the November 1838 election, and after two months of furious activity at home planning the new organization of the state government with a stream of political visitors and working with Frances on his inaugural address, he set off for Albany in December with again only Augustus for company. Ultimately Frances relented and she and the children customarily spent all but the summer months in the "Governor's Mansion." Since the state did not then provide a residence Seward was forced to look for one. He finally decided on the Kane Mansion and wrote Frances that he and Weed were "of the opinion that you will be tranquilly located when you come here. . . there is so much luxury in space."22 Space there certainly was. Once a country estate, the house still sat in four acres of lawn, trees, and gardens. There was ample room for the boys to play ball, go sledding, and keep a variety of pets, including a tame fawn. It was conveniently located to their school as well as to the Capitol. The wide central hall was suitable for small receptions. To one side were the formal parlors and a huge combination dining room and ballroom. On the other side were the family sitting rooms, and in a wing with a separate entrance were the rooms which the governor used as offices. The mansion also came equipped with a staff of servants trained in the service of previous governors. Of course, the large rooms were almost impossible to heat, the roof leaked, and the cellars were full of rats, but William Henry felt that he had combined privacy, convenience, and luxury and he and the boys loved it.23

Frances, while by no means over either her illness or her prejudice against Albany, entered somewhat into the spirit of things as "The Governor's Lady." Some of the more "democratic" entertainments, such as the annual New Year's Day open house and the parties for campaign workers, she found frankly revolting.24 The more formal parties were something else. She helped Seward receive members of the legislature and their wives for dinners of 40 at a time and gave a series of large evening parties as well as some smaller ones. The guest list for these parties included state officials, members of the old Albany families, and distinguished visitors such as Washington Irving, Sir Charles Bagot, Daniel Webster, and John Jordan Crittenden.25

Still, life at the beginning of 1843 must have seemed as a dream come true to Frances. "Henry's" two terms as governor were completed, no new political involvement was in the offing, and for once, her whole family was together in Auburn. "Henry" had leisure to devote to her and to their garden and house.26 Although he tried to put a good face on matters, the period was not so happy for Seward. It was hard to be "retired" at 42. His letters, while protesting that he was happy and comfortable in the role of small-town lawyer, were full of comments on political events in which he no longer had any role and of a painful desire for political news.27 Four years in office had left him with a passion for broad affairs of state which would remain with him for the rest of his life. It had done something else as well. It had left him broke. Indeed, worse than broke; heavily in debt. Living in Judge Miller's house made it easy to make ends meet, but once in office Seward let his natural extravagance run away with him. Relatively uninterested in his own appearance except for a weakness for fancy uniforms, he liked lavish display in everything else—elaborate equipages, large and sometimes opulent houses, and open-handed and constant entertaining. American public officials were poorly paid and Seward was consistently scrupulous about the pecuniary aspects of office-holding. His four-thousand-dollar salary as governor had not even paid the rent on the Kane Mansion and he had borrowed heavily from friends to meet his other expenses while in Albany.28 Something clearly had to be done and Seward's sole major source of income was his law practice. By June he was, therefore, hard at work. From then until the outbreak of the Civil War his practice would flourish and would take up increasing amounts of his time. After 1846 much of that time was spent away from home and even out of the state. He had moved into patent law, and the lure of handsome retainers, coupled with the possibility of making national political contacts, caused him to plead cases all over the country. He was gone so much that Frances described him as "just a visitor at home."29 "Henry" was also traveling about delivering speeches, attending meetings, and piling up political chits for the day when he would return to the fray. After some vicious in-fighting, so vicious, in fact, that Frances admitted "for once I am glad Henry is elected," Seward was chosen, in February 1849, to be the junior Senator from New York.30

Washington in 1849 was a raw, crude, ugly city. An open sewer ran up what is now the Mall and the broad avenues were usually broad seas of mud. The few private houses seemed to straggle about aimlessly and were unnumbered. Most government officials lived in dreary boardinghouses. There were few physical amenities and equally few entertainments. What society existed was largely Southern in tone. The Sewards lived better than most political families, but their "F" Street home was merely a red-brick row house.31 In spite of all its deficiencies Frances liked Washington, at least initially, far better than Albany. There was something of the snob in Frances and she found the rigid, hierarchical etiquette system to her liking. Although it was a wearying process, she felt that the Washington system of merely leaving cards was "exceedingly convenient and much more agreeable than the tedious and uninteresting intercourse exacted from me at Albany." She was also flattered by the attention she received on her arrival. She felt that she was at last appreciated for her ability and she noted smugly that "My 'reception' Friday was attended by the élite of the city. All told," she concluded: "There are evidences of refinement in the society here which I have never found elsewhere."32 Then the round of Christmas festivities set in and she began to complain of exhaustion. Since Washington, in the new year of 1850, was the center of the great debates on slavery expansion, California, and the other fruits of the Mexican War, she wanted to stay. Thus, by mid-January, she was writing wistfully to her sister, Lazette: "were it not that Henry wants to invite company to dinner very often we could live very quietly."33

But, of course, "Henry" always wanted to invite company. In fact, his home became a veritable "club for freesoilers.34 As his ambitions increased so did his entertaining and so did Frances' absences. She spent much of 1850 and parts of five other prewar Winters in the capital. Otherwise her visits were brief and sporadic. After his re-election in 1855, "Henry" took another house on "F" Street, where he assured Frances "you can live very retired."35 By this time she knew him too well wholly to believe that. Senator Seward was desperate. He had his eye on the Republican nomination for the Presidency in 1856. When he missed that opportunity he was sure that the prize would be his in 1860. He felt that he needed to entertain and he needed a hostess. After trying several temporary expedients, he literally commandeered the services of his daughter-in-law, Anna, in 1858.36 In Anna he was lucky. She was competent, energetic, loyal, and above all tactful. She served as his hostess and when, in 1861, he moved into the Old Clubhouse on Lafayette Square, it was she who arranged for the alterations and decoration, acquired the furniture, and laid out the garden.37 When Frances arrived she had little to do except take to her bed.38

Washington in wartime frightened and distressed Frances and she avoided it when she could. She came about once a year and stayed no more than a month or six weeks, in spite of the fact that after 1862 all of her children were there. If Frances declined to be in Washington, "Henry" found little time to be in Auburn. During the four years of the war, he made exactly nine trips home and none of them was very satisfactory. Some were for purely political purposes and all were short. As if to add insult to injury he even wrote Frances that, needing a rest and able to take a week away from his desk, he had thought of coming home but had decided to take a cruise on the Potomac instead.39

There were other drawbacks to being a politician's wife besides separation, the invasion of privacy by hosts of callers, both washed and unwashed, and the perpetual need to socialize. These other aspects of political life were a special trial to someone as sensitive as Frances. A few were trivial, such as the snubs she received from the wives of disappointed office seekers and political rivals.40 Some were annoying, such as the importuning of friends seeking offices.41 Some were excruciating, such as telling the children on various occasions that their dogs were deliberately killed by their father's political opponents.42 Once there was the threat of actual physical violence because of her husband's and her own stated principles.43 Almost all of these were transitory problems. More persistent and even more painful were the attacks on her "dearest Henry's" character. For all their personality differences "Henry" and Frances were united on principles, and she believed implicitly in the rectitude of his cause. More important, she loved him. An attack on him became an attack on her. Seward was often viciously attacked. He was called "the great arch agitator," "a perjured traitor," a murderer, a drunkard, and a warmonger.44 Seward, with his tolerance, his vanity, and his eternal optimism, probably bore these attacks better than the morbid and introspective Frances. On the other hand, his ego could be badly bruised by political defeat. Frances really didn't want him in political office but neither did she want him humiliated. She especially did not want him to be President, but she shared some of his distress when he was twice denied his party's nomination.45

Being the wife of a national leader had some compensations. Generally, Frances was unimpressed by the people she met but occasionally her husband's prominence gave her entrée to people whom she vastly admired. Among these were two famous reformers, Dorothea Dix and Lucretia Mott,46 but the most cherished of Frances' acquaintances was Charles Sumner, whom she called a man of "clear moral perceptions," "so unsuspicious and so kind in his feelings," "so sincere," "so fearless a champion of human rights," "honest and honorable."47

The sustaining force in Frances' life beyond her love for her husband and children was her firm belief that through William Henry she was contributing to the improvement of her country. She never really cared for politics but she cared passionately for causes. Some of her causes "Henry" was not enthusiastic about, although she pushed him hard. She tried, for example, to ban liquor from the house without any permanent success and to interest her husband in her mania for homeopathy.48 On other issues they both took a moderate although enlightened view. Notable among these was women's rights.49 On the great public topics of Seward's career and most notably on the slavery issue they were always in basic agreement. Frances was more passionate, more extreme, more rigid than William Henry and from time to time he had to ask her to restrain public expressions of her views.50 She sometimes thought him too conciliatory.51 These differences, although they wounded both husband and wife, were merely differences of style and tactics, not of principle or conviction.

Through all of their marriage William Henry had written her almost daily when they were apart. His charming, tender, and witty letters contained effective word pictures of the countryside or his lodgings, vignettes of acquaintances, words of love and concern, and often tidbits on manners and styles designed to appeal to Frances' feminine interests. Above all he wrote to her of politics. He kept her informed, shared his hopes and his uncertainties, and sought her advice. He made her feel that her views were important and she poured them out in letter after letter. When he was home, he read her his speeches and public communications and sought her advice on matters of "style" and "principle." He usually incorporated her suggestions. During the debates on the Compromise of 1850 he traveled from Washington to solicit her comments on his second major speech.52 There was nothing of the "blue-stocking" about Frances. She could not have gone forth to make a speech or to present a petition to a legislature, but quietly, in her own home, she felt she was helping her "dearest Henry" to uplift humanity. As she sat in the visitors' gallery of the Senate and watched him during a minor debate she could scarcely contain her pride:

Much as I love Henry I feel that my love and respect are both augmented by his present position. When I looked upon his slight form, and thought that it embodied the only spirit sufficiently fearless to vindicate human rights, yet combined with a moderation and Christian charity which alone can render such efforts effective, I felt it was good for me to be there. . . . 53

Sometimes she felt his views to be so correct and so moral as to be utterly above and beyond the comprehension of mere politicians or of the public.54

During the Civil War the intellectual intimacy between Frances and her "Henry" diminished. She saw him less than at any other time in their marriage and he wrote less to her. As Secretary of State he was now privy to the most secret information of a government at war, and this he did not feel he could commit to paper, much less send through the mails.55 Now she knew scarcely more than what she read in the Auburn papers; but at any time when she was fully informed she stoutly defended her husband's conduct.56 Perhaps it was some consolation that Seward's political position was keeping two of her sons from the battlefield, but now it seemed to be keeping him away from her spiritually as well as physically. Yet to the very end she would remain for him "your own Frances."

In a home where the father was often gone and the mother often sick, what happened to the children? Were their lives affected by the tension between their parents? Did they end up taking sides in the gentle struggle? Did it help them or hurt them to be the children of a famous political leader?

Superficially at least, the oldest boy, Augustus Henry, profited from Seward's prominence. A career army officer, he owed two-thirds of his promotions to his father's direct intervention.57 On the Other hand, and perhaps equally superficially, "Gus" alone of the Seward offspring exhibited behavior which could scarcely be characterized as "normal." He was silent, withdrawn, unreachable by any member of the family. The beginnings of his withdrawal were already manifest in his childhood.

When Augustus was growing up his father tried earnestly to give him love and attention. Although it was Fred whom he and Frances took with them on their trip to the South in 1835, Seward was careful that his older son received frequent and detailed letters about the journey. Often he used these charming missives to instruct the lad about history and geography.58 If Fred went to Virginia, Gus went to the inaugural in Albany and to live with his father at Westfield. Seward liked to take both boys with him when he went around the countryside on his law cases.59 Yet, in the natural course of things, Gus spent most of his early years with his mother, and Frances' relationship with her first-born was a strange one.

She described him almost as if he were a changeling. To her, he was a large, red, peasantlike creature "wonderfully like" some of her distant Miller relatives. Somehow anything favorable she said about him came with a reservation. He grew astonishingly but his voice was "harsh or hoarse." He was improving in his studies under her guidance but Fred needed no stimulus at all to excel. Augustus was a good child but "exceedingly reserved."60 There seemed to be a faint uneasiness in Frances' attitude toward him. He didn't look like her as the other children did, nor like his father. He was neither extroverted, like the two William Henrys, nor interested in the arts, literature, and self-improvement as she, Fanny, and Fred were. In short, she didn't understand him and it made her uncomfortable. She certainly didn't understand his choice of a career and on that subject her disquiet flared into open and prolonged hostility. In 1843, Augustus entered West Point; he remained in the army until his death in 1876. Frances saw nothing but "the evil consequences of a military life" and blamed William Henry for permitting the boy to enter the army and for allowing him to stay there. It was a serious breach between the parents and as Frances wrote: "It makes our life uncomfortable to be in an attitude of opposition continually."61 She resolved not to "mar the pleasure" of Augustus' visits "by continual remonstrance," but of course she did. She even wrote begging him to resign his commission. Educated by Quakers, Frances was quite genuinely a pacifist, seeing war as a weapon only in defense of human rights. The war on the horizon during Augustus' West Point days was to her just the opposite—an attack of the strong against the weak for the expansion of slavery. That her son should find a career among men trained to kill and that he might himself kill in such a war was abhorrent to her. But the Mexican War ended and still Frances persisted. Perhaps the underlying reason for her opposition lay in her pathetic cry: "but his home is never more to be with me."62

Although not a militarist himself, William Henry fully supported his son. Always a tolerant man, Seward had the happy faculty of allowing his children to develop in their own way provided he himself was not inconvenienced. In his view, Frances was growing increasingly "unreasonable and in a fair way to prevent Augustus from succeeding in any thing." She wanted her boy home so intensely that William Henry began to pull strings to see that he came home even if still in uniform. Seward was in Washington and so were the people through whom the strings could be pulled. First there was a six-month furlough arranged through General Winfield Scott and Secretary of War C. M. Conrad, in 1850. Next there was a little visit by the Senator to New Jersey Avenue and the home of A. D. Bache, the head of the Coast Survey. Lo and behold! Lieutenant Augustus Seward was transferred from the West to the Coast Survey and sent to study the Hudson River.63 What Augustus thought about all this is unknown. He rarely wrote to the family and when he saw them he rarely spoke. He eschewed all civilian society and had no known friends, male or female. His reclusion was so obvious that William Henry tried to take a hand. He urged his son to get beyond the confines of camp life and to learn about American "society and government, men and things," in order that he might better understand his country, appreciate it and represent it.64 The advice fell on deaf ears.

There were contradictions in Augustus' actions. He would not under any circumstances leave the army. Yet he seemed devoid of any military ambition. When the Civil War erupted so did Frances. She wanted Augustus safe, preferably in New York or Washington. She took both direct and indirect action. Fearful of approaching William Henry on the subject, she asked Fred to use his good offices. Fred complied. Meanwhile she wrote directly to Secretary of War Simon Cameron. In contrast, Seward wanted a field appointment with the rank of major for his son. Buffeted on all sides by Sewards, Cameron did the only sensible thing. He kept open a major's billet with a regiment and one in the Paymaster's Department in Washington. Augustus chose to be a paymaster. A West Point graduate with experience and a father who was the second most powerful man in the government! Men rode into Civil War history on less. Augustus simply stayed silently where he was—in obscurity.65 In choosing a post in Washington, he also chose to live at home. He lived with his family but he didn't talk to them. His silences were so pronounced as to attract' comment from visitors. He lived amidst a maelstrom of social activity yet would go all the way to Philadelphia to avoid a reception. There is no indication that he was sullen or angry; he was just silent. Since his thoughts and feelings were always solely his own no certain cause can be fixed for his withdrawal. Perhaps his sister gave a clue when she casually wrote in the same sentence that she talked with Charlotte Cushman of Augustus' silence and her mother's illnesses.66 If his relationship with his mother was at the root of his reticence then his father's daily presence, companionship, and understanding in childhood might have helped.

No such problem existed with Frederick William. From his early years he had identified himself with his father and he was clearly William Henry's favorite son. As a little boy, he did his studies in his father's office in the governor's mansion, listened silent and wide-eyed to the political discussions, read the new books which the governor received, and even played with the official seal.67 Shy, "puny," and bookish, he happily set out in his father's company soon after his fifteenth birthday to enroll at Seward's alma mater, Union College. He liked his college days and did extremely well in his studies.68 His father had studied law upon graduation. Fred studied law. His studies were interrupted in 1849 "by a summons to Washington" to become his father's private secretary.69 He returned to his studies, was admitted to the bar and began to practice but, like his father at the same age, he had no real fondness for the law. He thought he might like journalism. Reluctantly, because he was already coming to value Fred's services, Seward sent him to Thurlow Weed. Frederick found journalism "a pursuit quite attractive, and well suited to my tastes and disposition."70 He bought an interest in the Albany Evening Journal, became an assistant editor, married an Albany girl, Anna Wharton, and settled down to what he must have thought was a life-time career. Then, as soon as William Henry accepted the post as Secretary of State, he wrote to Albany again, saying he needed "a confidential friend and scribe."71 Fred's real career was about to begin.

Frederick joined his father in the State Department as Assistant Secretary and did indeed serve as a confidential friend and scribe. He also handled many of the routine duties as well as the onerous and delicate one of fending off unwelcome visitors and hordes of office seekers. Fred remained at the State Department with his father through the next eight difficult years and even stayed in Washington after Seward's retirement to pack the 100 cartons of his father's books and papers for shipment to Auburn. Then he and Anna accompanied Seward on a nine month trip across the continental United States and on to Alaska, Mexico, and Cuba. During the Civil War, Frederick had talked of living somewhere on the Hudson and by 1870 he was esconced in a pretentious Italianate villa at Montrose-on-Hudson. As soon as Seward returned, in October 1871, from a trip around the world, Fred was back in Auburn taking dictation for William Henry's autobiography. He remained there fairly steadily until his father's death and then returned to Montrose with crates of public and private papers. The rest of his life was largely devoted to organizing, cataloguing, and editing these papers. The results of his labors were an autobiography and a monumental three-volume biography of his father. For 55 years, Frederick was, in truth, the "keeper of the flame."72 His life might not have been richer or happier, but it certainly would have been markedly different, if his father had not been a successful politician.

Not so "Willie." By all odds William Henry, Jr. should have been adversely affected by his father's rise to fame. As he was growing toward manhood, Seward's ambition was growing toward the Presidency and the boy was the cynosure of all eyes in Auburn. His childish pranks were commented on and made much of by the townsfolk. His father had little time for him and his mother was now chronically sick. The family was together mainly in Washington and Will frankly hated the capital and was miserably homesick there. Yet he was by far the happiest of the Seward children and the one least affected by his father's career.

The older boys had gone without complaint wherever their parents took them. Will let his feelings about Washington be known loudly and clearly with the result that he was permitted, over his father's objections, to head back to Auburn and his horse, his lambs, his ducks, and his playmates. When next the family went to Washington, Will, at his own request, was left behind. He promptly got into mischief and was shipped off to his parents. His mother just as promptly forgave him:

Poor Willie will always be one of those who suffer from misrepresentation . . . he can never escape the observation, the malicious observation of those who delight in the shortcomings of others. That his heart is uncorrupted I have not the shadow of a doubt.73

The other children were encouraged to study and develop their minds. Will rarely went to school, supposedly because his eyes troubled him. The rest of the family tiptoed past Frances' silent, shuttered bedroom. Will drilled a troop of his little friends, whom he called the Kossuth Cadets, on the Seward lawn.74 Inheriting his looks from his mother and something of his personality from his father, Will was slender, graceful, handsome, and a thoroughgoing extrovert. Gay, charming, affectionate, and generous, he was popular with his contemporaries and adored by his mother and sister.75

Senator Seward was not so enthusiastic. By his own admission, he had rather neglected his youngest son and by the late 1850s he had a problem on his hands. He had tried to encourage Will to study and improve himself in order that he might take over from Fred as private secretary. In the Winter of 1858-1859, Will went to Washington in that capacity. The experiment was not a success. For the first time, Seward was faced with a twenty-year-old son who had no training nor inclination for a profession and little idea what he wanted to do. William Henry shipped his namesake off to Albany to clerk in a store under Fred's watchful eye. That didn't work. Finally, as the Senator was about to leave for an extended tour of Europe, he entrusted his financial affairs to his youngest son. It was a lucky idea. Will had a natural aptitude for finance. Soon he had decided to go into the banking business. He asked his father to secure backing for the enterprise and, in 1861, with $5,000 obtained from the Senator's friend, Richard M. Blatchford, he was launched on what proved to be a successful financial venture.76

Will's business and military careers from this point are indicative of his practical attitude toward his father's fame. He was perfectly willing to take advantage of his father's name and connections in getting started. The new firm was called William Henry Seward, Jr. and Company and there were even plans to put the Secretary of State's portrait on the notes.77 But once launched in business, Will expected and did succeed largely through his own efforts. His military career ran the same course. By 1862, he could no longer stand to see his friends going off to war so he volunteered for the 138th New York Regiment. Again, it was probably his name as well as his own popularity which got him selected as lieutenant colonel but from there on his military success was wholly his own. Like Augustus he was offered a sinecure, his to be in the Inspector General's Department, but unlike Augustus he turned it down. He had enlisted with the young men from home and with them he would stay. After distinguishing himself at Cold Harbor and the Monocacy, he was made a brigadier general of volunteers and given a brigade in the Department of the Shenandoah.78

Will had always loved Auburn and he returned there as quickly as possible after the war. Upon the deaths of his mother and sister, he moved his wife and two children into the house on South Street. He never moved again. Of all William Henry and Frances' children, he was the only one who chose to stay in Auburn, the only one who had children of his own, and the only one whose life would probably have been essentially the same regardless of his father's occupation.

Things were evening out. One son was beyond the reach of either parent. One had opted for a life of public service at Washington with his father, and one had preferred home, family, and Auburn as his mother had done. The gentle war of wills accelerated when it came to the fourth child and only surviving daughter. The parents each loved her dearly and each wanted to shape her destiny.

From the very beginning, Fanny idolized her father. "Fanny is her fathers [sic] shadow she cannot bear to have him leave the house," Mrs. Seward wrote to her sister a scant four months before Seward was to leave semi-permanently to take his seat in the Senate. 79 He was home very little after that but when he was there he made a special effort to amuse the little girl. The memory of those happy moments stayed with her all her life.80 As soon as she could write she and Seward began a regular correspondence which both maintained until her death. Generally, however, in Fanny's formative years, Frances had a clear field. She raised a daughter so like herself that Fanny would call her "My affinity with whom I think instead of speak."81

The months spent in Washington were hard on the little girl. She missed her brothers, especially Will.82 She was a shy child who found it difficult to make close friends. Since few politicians brought their families to the capital, the circle from which she could choose companions was narrow, with the uncertainty of political fortune and diplomatic posting, the playmates of one year were often gone from the scene the next. In Auburn, things were different. There were skating and sleighing parties in the Winter, teas in the summerhouse in the good weather, square dances and amateur theatricals in the Seward parlor.83 There was a serious if not somber side as well. Fanny was a sickly child susceptible to sore throats, chills, coughs, and fevers. She was raised by a mother with a morbid anxiety about the slightest complaint. As a result her schooling and indeed all her activities were restricted and she was encouraged to keep indoors, stay quiet, or even take to her bed. Only William Henry, from afar, urged her not to give in to illness.84

Frances feared for her daughter's health and had rather strong notions on gentility and proper conduct, but she also believed that women had rights and abilities as yet imperfectly recognized, and that every individual had an obligation to work actively for the betterment of society. She instilled in Fanny her own strong beliefs in temperance, religion, and abolition. Between them, mother and daughter decided that a literary career might be the answer. Seward concurred and both parents encouraged her to read widely, to write poetry and plays, to keep books of abstracts and quotations, and to maintain a journal.85 Not long after her twenty-first birthday, Fanny wrote to Frances:

Imagine me full of the old literary fervor—and anxious to be at work,. . . I mean to improve in the work I cannot choose but take…I am full of hope that I may yet make my life worth the living—and be of some use in the world.86

Seward also concurred in the accepted notion that Fanny would never marry but would live at home and devote herself to good works.87

With the coming of the 1860s, Fanny began to spend more and more time with her father. Although he loved her deeply, he cannot have been altogether satisfied with her. Although Frances had not neglected accomplishments like French and dancing, Fanny was awkward and socially inept. She was abnormally sensitive, unduly serious, emotionally immature, and just a bit of a prig. Although much like Frances in some ways, she lacked her mother's looks, independent mind, or intellectual force.  Still, the girl was gentle, affectionate, well educated, and anxious to please. She was also malleable and she adored her father.

William Henry set out on a campaign to broaden Fanny's horizons. He took her with him on a campaign swing through the Midwest in the early fall of 1860. He insisted that she come to the table when he had important or interesting guests at the Old Clubhouse. He included her with a party of foreign diplomats on a tour to the Union army encamped before Fredericksburg, to Jamestown, and to Fortress Monroe. Both Fanny and William Henry loved the theater, and through her father she met and saw perform the greatest American thespians of the day, Edwin Booth and Charlotte Cushman. Seward arranged for his daughter's presentation to Washington society at his New Year's Day reception in 1863, and thereafter he escorted her to parties and dances.

At first Fanny was frightened by these experiences. She cried at the prospect of separation from her mother, brother, and aunt in 1860. Initially, she was so terrified by Washington society that she could not bear to remain in the parlor at a party if Anna left for the supper room. Gradually, however, she developed confidence and was able to go to parties without her sister-in-law and to receive callers unaided. She filled her diary with sometimes glowing, sometimes acid comments on generals, senators, diplomats, and visiting noblemen. Most of all she relished the hours driving in the carriage or sitting quietly at home, when Seward would talk to her of his travels or discuss his favorite authors. 88

On the whole his guidance was wise and gentle but in one area he failed to understand her fully. He told her that he was glad she was growing to maturity during the war because "It will be instructive for all your future life."89 Many of his letters to her during the war talked of battles, won, lost, or impending, or of conditions in the city and the army. Fanny shared with Frances an anxious and melancholy temperament. Her fears for the safety of her family in Washington were extreme and as the war progressed she dwelt more and more on death and dying.90 The violent attack on her father and brothers on Good Friday 1865, and her mother's death, coupled with her own increasing physical decline, accentuated this tendency. She turned for comfort to two things—religion and her father's love. She could hardly stand to be separated from him, writing at one point: "We are waiting to hear if I may yet be allowed to return to Washington— to my place, with you, my dear Father, where I should comfort my self in trying to be of some little comfort to you."91 Seward finally sensed the depth of her melancholia and changed the tenor of his letters. He chatted about the weather, inquired about the garden in Auburn, commented on the movement of the State Department to temporary quarters, and other inconsequential matters. He informed her that he would not write of politics because it was "a field in which you can do no effectual labor. So I always dealt with your mother; and she had the easier life for leaving political troubles to me…"92 This was a whopper and Fanny knew it. Also, she really worried more not knowing the details of political changes in the capital. More important, she wanted desperately to take her mother's place. She wrote back requesting that he instruct her in politics and when he began to do so she was delighted.93

It is difficult to say what kind of mature woman Fanny Seward would have become. She died a few weeks before her twenty-second birthday. It does seem clear that she needed the constant guidance, affection, and support of both her parents more than the boys did. She appears to have profited more than anyone else from exposure to the great and the near-great in a variety of fields. She also grieved more than the others over the political attacks on her father and was often "sad and apprehensive" about national events.94 Loving both her parents, she was torn between them. She seems to have been more affected than any of the other children by William Henry's political career and on balance the effect appears to have been a sad one.

Was politics at the root of the tension, the anxiety, and the heartache in the Seward family? Would things have been different if William Henry had chosen another career? In externals, of course, but the fundamental situation might well have remained about the same. Seward's best biographer says flatly:  "Frances was the problem in the Seward household."95 This seems too harsh. The essence of the problem was the combination of her temperament with her husband's.

William Henry was gregarious, needing the stimulation of good food, good wine, and good conversation. He possessed an enormous vitality and thirst for life. Only occasionally the victim of illness or accident, he had no patience with sickrooms or protracted convalescence. His urge to travel and see new sights, meet new people, and savor new experiences was inexhaustible. Both Fanny and Fred insisted that he always regarded Auburn as home and Fanny, for one, felt that he would be quite content to retire there.96 If it was home then he certainly wasn't much interested in being at home even when he had the opportunity. There were 44 months between his retirement and his death and 21 of these were spent in travel. Many of the absences which so troubled Frances were  politically or financially necessary, but some were not. There were the Christmases spent in Westfield when no real crisis required his attention, and more important there were the trips to Europe in 1833 and 1859.

There were bound to be clashes between two strong-willed people with such divergent temperaments. No compromise was really possible. Frances could not and "Henry" would not. To her, the good life consisted in having her husband and children around her in Auburn. To modify her dream would have been to destroy it. Also, she was hemmed in by the conventions of middle-class American society and by her own sensibilities. Thus, she had no alternative outlet for her thoughts, emotions, or aspirations. Like many women of her day, she needed her family too much. To William Henry, Frances was important but not absolutely essential to his well-being. Almost every day of his life he was busy and involved with a variety of schemes, projects, amusements, or journeys. Not that anything short of total victory would have satisfied Frances, but might not he have limited some of his activities and spent more time at home? He might have but he didn't, for there was in William Henry a selfish streak. He was kind, gentle, and sometimes compassionate but he also went right ahead and did what he wanted to 97

Frederick said of him: "His habit was to labor hard and long, travel hard and long, give liberally and spend freely."98 Regardless of occupation, he would doubtless have had the same habits. Regardless of occupation, he would probably have written: "I could not be well or happy at home."


  1. Allan Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln, Vol. 1: Douglas, Buchanan and Party Chaos1857-1859 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1950), p. 21; Burton J. Hendrick, Lincoln's War Cabinet (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946), p. 9; Edward Dicey, Six Months in the Federal States (London: Macmillan and Co., 1863), I, pp. 229-231; Charles Francis Adams, Jr., Charles Francis Adams1835-1915An Autobiography (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1916), p. 68. 
    The quotation in the title is from a letter written by Seward to his wife three days after he accepted Lincoln's offer of the post of Secretary of State. The sentence reads in full: "I could not be well or happy at home, refusing to do what I can, when called to the councils of my country." It is quoted in Frederick W. Seward,William Henry Seward: An Autobiography with a Memoir of His Life and Selections from His Letters, Vol. II, Seward at Washington…1846-1861 (New York: Derby and Miller, 1891), p. 489.
  2. Details of Frances' appearance are based on portraits of her as a young woman and photographs of her in middle age. There are a number of these in the Seward House at Auburn, New York. Also on display there are some of her clothes and her mahogany piano, a gift from her father. Her education is described in Frederick Seward, Seward, I, p. 62. Mention of Frances' independent mind is made in William Henry Seward to his father, Samuel Sweezy Seward, August 12, 1823. Unless otherwise noted, all letters and manuscripts are in the William Henry Seward Papers, University of Rochester Library, Rochester, New York. 
    After the initial reference containing the full name, individuals will be cited by the name most commonly used for them in the family, the only exception being Seward himself. He was usually called Henry by his wife but for clarity's sake he will be referred to as William Henry.
  3. Judge Miller's marriage condition is mentioned by Seward himself in the autobiographical section of Frederick Seward, Seward, I, p. 62. 
    Frances' father died in 1851; her aunt, Clarinda Miller McClallen, in 1862. Paulina Titus Miller, her grandmother, described by William Henry as "the only mother Frances has ever known," died October 1, 1835. Joel H. Monroe, Historical Records of a Hundred and Twenty Years (Geneva, New York: W. F. Humphrey, 1913), p. 48; Elliot G. Storke, History of Cayuga CountyNew York (Syracuse: D. Mason & Co., 1879), p. 228; Frederick Seward, Seward, I, pp. 290-291, quoting an undated letter from William Henry Seward to Thurlow Weed.
    Almost all of Mrs. Seward's letters contain some mention of her desire to have the family united in Auburn. See especially Frances Adeline Miller Seward to her sister, Lazette Maria Miller Worden, Nov. 30, 1846, June 11, 1847, Dec. 17, [1851], Dec. 25, 1851, Feb. 22, 1852. Her strong attachment to the house is mentioned in Frederick Seward, Seward, I, p. 744, and her distress at possible alterations is detailed in Glyndon G. VanDeusen, William Henry Seward (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), pp. 408-410.
  4. Frederick Seward, Seward, I, pp. 75, 91.
  5.  The chronology of William Henry's comings and goings is taken largely from the family correspondence and from the diary of his daughter, Fanny, which is also in the Seward Papers. Supplemental data was derived from Frederick's three-volume biography. See also VanDeusen, Seward, p. 37; John Stanton Gould to Frances Adeline Miller Seward, Dec. 27, 1844; Frances to Lazette, Jan. 1, 1845; William Henry to Weed, Nov. 17, 1851, Thurlow Weed Papers, University of Rochester Library, Rochester, New York.
  6. Frances Adeline Miller Seward to her husband, William Henry Seward,  Feb. 12, 1837.
  7. Frances to Lazette, [summer, 1845], Dec. 22, 1850, March 16, 1849.
  8. Frances to Lazette, July 6, 1845, Oct. 3, 1846, June 30, 1850.
  9. William Henry to Weed, Nov. 4 and Nov. 11, 1838, Weed Papers.
  10. Frances to Lazette, Nov. 5, 1844.
  11. Frances Adeline [Fanny] Seward, diary, Dec. 28, 1858, March 16, 1859.
  12. The family correspondence beginning in the 1830s is replete with examples of these ailments. The emphasis on neuralgia and headaches begins in the late 1840s and continues until her death. Of special interest are Frances' letters to Lazette, 1848-1858, the Fanny Seward diary, and Fanny's and Frances' letters to William Henry during the Civil War.
  13. Frances to Lazette, Jan. 15, 1849, Jan. 25, 1852.
  14. Fanny Seward, diary, Dec. 29, 1859, April 7, 1865.
  15. William Henry Seward to his wife, Frances Adeline Miller Seward, Jan. 1, 1854, quoted in Frederick Seward, Seward, H, p. 215.
  16. Frances Adeline [Fanny] Seward to her father, William Henry Seward, Aug. 24, 1864; William Henry to Frances, Aug. 27, 1864.
  17. Frederick Seward, Seward, III, p. 494.
  18. Benjamin F. Hall, "Genealogical and Biographical Sketch of the Late Elijah Miller," Ms., Elijah Miller Papers, University of Rochester Library, Rochester, New York; Fanny Seward, diary, 1866; William Henry Seward, Jr. to his father, William Henry Seward, Aug. 8, 1866, Sept. 13, 1866; Earl Conrad, The Governor and His Lady. The Story of William Henry Seward and His Wife Frances (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1960), p. 359.
  19. Frederick W. Seward, Reminiscences of a War-Time Statesman and Diplomat 1830-1915 (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1916), pp. 1-3; VanDeusen, Seward, p. 31; Frederick Seward, Seward, I, p. 209.
  20. Ultimately Seward profited from his involvement in Chautauqua land, but for a number of years the debts which he had run up in order to invest in the project haunted him and put him on the verge of bankruptcy. For a brief analysis of this complicated financial scheme, see VanDeusen, Seward, pp. 38-42, 87-88, 98, 146.
  21. Ibid., pp. 37, 46; Frederick Seward, Seward, I, pp. 310-311, 324.
  22. Frederick Seward, Seward, I, p. 383.
  23. Frederick Seward, Reminiscences, pp. 23-26; William Henry to Frances, Dec. 21, 1838, May 28, 1842, June 4, 1842; Frances to Lazette, Jan. 10, 1841.
  24. Frances to Lazette, Oct. 20, 1839, Dec. 15, 1839.
  25. Frederick Seward, Seward, I, p. 465, Reminiscences, p. 25.
  26. Frederick Seward, Seward, I, pp. 645, 657.
  27. See William Henry's letters to Weed, January-June 1843, Weed Papers.
  28. VanDeusen, Seward, pp. 52, 56, 88. 
    In 1859, his daughter spoke disparagingly of the elaborate carriage with liveried servants and footman maintained by Senator William Gwin. As soon as he became Secretary of State, Seward bought this carriage and former President Buchanan's bay horses. Fanny Seward, diary, Jan. 26, 1859, March 11, 1861.
  29.  Frances to Lazette, June 11, 1847.
  30. Frances to Lazette, Feb. 12, 1849.
  31. Frederick Seward, Seward, II, pp. 104, 111-112; Adams, Charles Francis Adams, p. 49.
  32. Frances to Lazette, Dec. 9, 14, 21, 1849.
  33. Frances to Lazette, Dec. 29, 1849, Jan. 18, 1850.
  34. Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln, p. 128.
  35. William Henry to Frances, March 7, 1855.
  36. Frederick Seward, Seward, II, p. 334.
  37. Anna Wharton Seward to her mother-in-law, Frances Adeline Miller Seward, Feb. 28, 1861, June 18, 1861; Fanny Seward, diary, Sept. 1, 1861.
  38. A full description of Mrs. Seward's visits to Washington and her activities there may be found in her daughter's diary for the years 1858-1865.
  39. William Henry to Frances, May 19, 1862.
  40. VanDeusen, Seward, p. 59; Fanny Seward, diary, Sept. 9, 1861. One snub was crushingly and dramatically administered by the wife of the President of the United States.
  41. William Henry to Frances, March 16, 1861. Frances was not the only recipient of these requests. After her death they were directed to Fanny. See Fanny to William Henry, Aug. 20, 1866.
  42. Frances to Lazette, May 1, 1858; Fanny Seward, diary, section beginning Nov. 1859.
  43. William Henry to Frances, July 21, 25, 1863; Fanny to William Henry, July 26, 1863; VanDeusen, Seward, p. 408.
  44. Frederick Seward, Seward, II, pp. 444-445; VanDeusen, Seward, p. 341.
  45. Frances to William Henry, July 20, 1856; William Henry to Frances, May 30, 1860.
  46. Fanny Seward, diary, March 30, 1862, April 24, 1862, section beginning May 19, 1861.
  47. Frances to Lazette, Feb. 22, 1852, March 25, 1852, May 30, 1856, Dec. 25, 29, 1851.
  48. Frances to Lazette, Jan. 20, 1842, June 15, 1845; Fanny Seward, diary, Dec. 30, 1858.
  49. Frances to Lazette, Jan. 15, 1849; Fanny Seward, diary, Jan. 22, 1863; Frederick Seward, Seward, III, pp. 486, 489.
  50. Frances to Lazette, Jan. 15, 1854; William Henry to Frances, Nov. 30, 1863.
  51. Frederick Seward, Seward, II, pp. 493-497; William Henry to Frances, Dec. 18, 1860, July 17, 1863.
  52. Frederick Seward, Seward, I, p. 703; Frances to William Henry, July 8, 1850.
  53. Frederick Seward, Seward, II, pp. 120-121.
  54. Frances to Lazette, March 10, 19, 21, 1850.
  55. Frederick Seward, Seward, II, p. 534; VanDeusen, Seward, p. 268; William Henry to Frances, Dec. 5, 1861.
  56. Frances to Lazette, Dec. 26, 1861.
  57. VanDeusen, Seward, pp. 264, 404-405. VanDeusen says that Augustus "eventually achieved the rank of major." Since his date of rank as a major was March 17, 1861, the promotion appears to have come with the position his father secured for him in the Paymaster's Department. See Francis B. Heitman, ed., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1903), I, p. 874.
  58. Frederick Seward, Seward, I, pp. 283-284.
  59. Ibid., p. 746.
  60. Frances to William Henry, [June 18391, Feb. 21, 1837; Frances to Lazette, June 29, [1845].
  61. Frances to Lazette, [1845], June 19, 1850.
  62. Frances to Lazette, Aug. 13, 1845; Frances Adeline Miller Seward to her son, Augustus Henry Seward, Aug. 16, 1848, Dec. 24, 1848.
  63. Frances to Lazette, June 16, 1850, Dec. 25, 1851, April 12, 1852; A. D. Bache to William Henry Seward, Dec. 11, 1851.
  64. William Henry Seward to his son, Augustus Henry Seward, May 24, 1850, as quoted in Frederick Seward, Seward, II, pp. 134-135.
  65. Frances Adeline Miller Seward to Simon Cameron, [March 1861], Anna to Frances, March 31, 1861; Frederick William Seward to his mother, Frances Adeline Miller Seward, April 8, 1861.
  66. Fanny Seward, diary, Jan. 30, 1862, Oct. 12-13, 1863.
  67. Frederick Seward, Reminiscences, pp. 26-27, 51.
  68. Ibid., pp. 58-66; Frances to Lazette, Nov. 20, 1844, Nov. 23, 1845, Dec. 7, 1845.
  69. Frederick Seward, Reminiscences, p. 68.
  70. Ibid., p. 84.
  71. Frederick Seward, Seward, II, p. 489.
  72. Ibid., III, pp. 400, 402-463, 446 (facing), 465; Frances Adeline Miller Seward to her daughter, Frances Adeline [Fanny] Seward, March 1865, quoted in VanDeusen,Seward, p. 410, see also p. 561.
  73. Frances Adeline [Fanny] Seward to her brother, William Henry Seward, Jr., May 28, 1857; Frances to Lazette, June 30, 1850, April 20, 1851, Jan. 25, 1852. It is a tribute to Frances' love for Will that the mischief she forgave included drinking beer in a local tavern. He was then 12 years old. VanDeusen, Seward, pp. 144-145.
  74. Monroe, Historical Records, p. 190.
  75. Fanny to William Henry, Sept. 21, 1562; Fanny to Will, Nov. 25, 1849; William Henry Seward, Jr. to his sister, Frances Adeline [Fanny] Seward, March 1857, Dec. 14, 1857, Feb. 7, 1865; Frances to Lazette, Feb. 22, 1852, March 3, 1850, Jan. 28, 1845.
  76. William Henry to Weed, June 26, 1860; William Henry Seward to his son, William Henry Seward, Jr., Dec. 4, 1854. These letters are quoted in Frederick Seward,Seward, II, pp. 354, 457. See also VanDeusen, Seward, p. 264.
  77. Fanny Seward, diary, March 11, 1861. His career, which included the presidency of two banks and a directorship of the American Express Company, is briefly outlined in Monroe, Historical Records, p. 219.
  78. Monroe, Historical Records, pp. 217-218; Mark Mayo Boatner III, The Civil War Dictionary (New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1959), p. 732; Fanny Seward, diary, Oct. 12, 1862, May 4, 1863.
  79. Frances to Lazette, Nov. 7, 1848.
  80. Fanny to William Henry, Aug. 27, 1866.
  81. Fanny to Frances, Feb. 11, 1864.
  82. Fanny to Will, Nov. 25, 1849; Frances to Lazette, Nov. 30, 1849, March 3, 1850, April 21, 1850.
  83. Fanny to Will, May 28, 1857, Feb. 8, [1861]; Fanny to William Henry, Jan. 8, 20, 1861, May 25, 1862, Nov. 15, 1863.
  84. Fanny to William Henry, March 31, 1861, Nov. 9, 1862; Fanny to Will, July 15, 1857, Sept. 22, 1857, Nov. 13, 1857; Frances to Lazette, July 6, 1845, Feb. 6, 1847, March 16, 1849, April 3, 1849, Jan. 18, 1850.
  85. Her efforts in these areas may be found in the Seward Papers.
  86. Fanny to Frances, Feb. 11, 1864.
  87. Fanny Seward, diary, April 29, 1862, Jan. 22, 1863.
  88. These comments are based on Fanny's diary entries.
  89. William Henry to Fanny, undated, quoted in Frederick Seward, Seward, II, p. 584.
  90. Fanny to William Henry, Sept. 10, 1862. See also her diary for the war years and her poetry.
  91. Fanny to William Henry, Aug. 11, 1865.
  92. William Henry to Fanny, July 18, 1866.
  93. Fanny to William Henry, Aug. 1, 1866.
  94. Fanny to William Henry, July 15, 1866.
  95. VanDeusen, Seward, p. 265.
  96. Fanny Seward, diary, Oct. 14, 1863; Frederick Seward, Seward, II, p. 47.
  97. A notable example of this type of conduct occurred in the fall of 1865. Following the assassination attempt and Frances' death, Seward decided that he would like to visit the Caribbean, where he had long been interested in acquiring a U.S. naval base. It would be good for everyone's health and they would make a family party of it, he said. Anna, prone to seasickness and exhausted from nursing Seward, Fred, Frances, and Fanny, dreaded the whole idea. Fred, far more seriously wounded than his father, doubted that it would be long enough to improve his health. The three of them sailed in January 1866. Fanny to Will, Dec. 17, 26, 1865; Frederick Seward, Seward, III, pp. 302-319.
  98. Frederick Seward, Seward, I, p. 704.


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